Last month, a small group of Victoria Falls locals decided to walk the Liunga springline in the Zambezi Park. Halfway up the springline, we found a thicket much favoured by lion, and the lion researcher went ahead with one of our group who was armed for backup, while the rest stayed back. We heard three shots, followed shortly after by two rapid shots. Two members of our team had been in the thicket when shooting erupted nearby, and upon investigating, they encountered an armed poacher. There was an exchange of fire, and the poacher went down with a .458 slug through his leg just above the knee!
The poacher had just fired 3 shots into an elephant, which had run off wounded - we were unable to follow the elephant, but 2 days later an elephant was found dead in the Zambezi - we suspect it is the same one..
We caught up with our two members, near the wounded poacher. We then unloaded his weapon, dragged him to the shade, while some of our party went to get a vehicle we had a good chance to interrogate him, he admitted he had 2 accomplices with him who had escaped They had crossed into Zimbabwe at 1AM the previous night and planned to shoot an elephant, chop out the tusks and leave - basically a hit & run tactic now used by the Zambians due to the losses they have suffered from Parks patrols. We got a lot of info from him, including his village, the name of his accomplices, and the ivory buyer in Lusaka. He claimed this was his first time poaching, etc, but he was obviously an old hand. His shoes had plastic fur glued to the bottom for anti-tracking.
The poacher was moved to a Hospital in Bulawayo. Parks Investigations subsequently crossed into Zambia & met with their counterparts, & they then followed up on the incident, & came up with a wealth of information. It turned out that the wounded poacher was a notorious poacher, who had been poaching for years. His wife showed the team where he hid his rifle, & told them he loaned money from his ivory sales to locals at 50% interest! They also found out the names of the local poaching co-ordinator in the area, & the boatmen who ferried the poachers across the river. Poacher remain in hospital. Story from Bhejane Trust